Gov’t wants drones to scout fish

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Gov’t wants drones to scout fish

The government unveiled a plan to commercialize unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) by 2023 to help deep-sea fishing vessels find fish.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy yesterday released the plan at a press conference saying it wants to open up an era of UAVs by successfully launching a fish-finding drone.

Deep-sea fishing vessels currently employ privately owned helicopters to find fish shoals in the southern Pacific Ocean and off western Africa, but a shortage of pilots has been a concern.

“The difficulties of finding pilots to do this work hurt the overall performance of the deep-sea fishing industry,” said Moon Seung-wook, director general of the System Industry Policy Department at the Industry Ministry.

“The helicopters were also old, raising safety concerns. Deep-sea fishing work usually takes months. Not many pilots wanted to work for this industry.”

According to the ministry’s data, about 700 deep-sea fishing vessels exist worldwide. However, only 400 units are actually operating due to a shortage of pilots for fish-finding helicopters.

The government hopes drones are the solution.

Korea is technologically ready, says the ministry, as the state-run Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) completed developing tilt-rotor high-speed UAVs in 2012 after 10 years of research.

Since last April, the technology has been applied to advanced military-use UAVs that fly as fast as 500 kilometers per hour (310 miles per hour) for export.

Two units of fish-finding private-use drones are designed to fly in a team at speeds of up to 250 kilometers per hour.

They are able to fly as far as 200 kilometers (124 miles).

The UAV can stay in the air for up to six hours, compared to 2.5 hours for helicopters.

The Industry Ministry wants to adjust the tilt-rotor technology for marine use by the end of 2016.

It will inject 257.3 billion won ($239 million) to meet production demand of about 1,000 drones for 500 deep-sea fishing vessels across the world.

The project needs to pass a preliminary feasibility plan at the National Assembly by the end of this year.

The government said the project is promising, as the world’s UAV market is growing faster than the aircraft market.

According to Teal Group data, the world’s UAV market is forecast to grow by 10 percent every year to $12.5 billion in 2023.

BY kim ji-yoon []

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